In early December, as President Obama was announcing that he was sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, Greg Mortenson was releasing his book Stones into Schools, a followup to his 2006 best-seller Three Cups of Tea. Mortenson has logged more months in remote parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan than almost any other Westerner.
Activist and author Jim Wallis, the founder of Sojourners magazine, noted sadly that 17,000 people had signed a petition to the White House in late November asking President Obama to lead a different kind of “surge” in Afghanistan that relied more on diplomacy and humanitarian assistance than on military escalation.
President Obama goes to the Copenhagen conference on climate change this month in a weak position, unable to point to any significant U.S. plan for cutting carbon emissions. Though the U.S. has the highest per capita emissions in the world, it has yet to commit itself to cutting the volume of heat-trapping gases that cause global warming. The issue remains on the political back burner.
"No faith justifies these murderous and craven acts"
Dec 15, 2009
In a ceremony recalling the 13 people gunned down in an attack five days earlier at Fort Hood, Texas, President Obama said the tragedy cannot be supported by any faith. “It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy,” said Obama at a memorial service November 10 on the army base.
Obama adds sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories
Dec 01, 2009
With the stroke of a pen, President Obama expanded federal hate-crime laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories, a goal for which gay-rights activists have been working for more than a decade.
After rumors circulated that President Obama’s health-care reform would institute “death panels” for the elderly, Congress quickly abandoned any effort to address end-of-life issues in health-care legislation.
Was former president Jimmy Carter identifying the elephant in the room or seeing a phantom when he charged that much of the opposition to President Obama’s health-care reform is motivated by racism? Whatever the wisdom of Carter’s comments, Obama himself has refused to be drawn into the debate.
Sociologist Robert Bellah calls individualism “the default mode” of American culture. It provides the rhetoric and political convictions to which people instinctively turn—whether or not it makes sense in the situation.